Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Local TV stations collaborate to give documentary on meth concurrent prime-time airing

In an example of cooperative community journalism, television stations in several markets are showing a documentary on methamphetamine (seen in powder form in the Global Studio photo at left) at the same time — known as a "roadblock" in TV parlance, coined in the days before cable TV was prevalent.

Sacramento was the fifth market to give such treatment to "Crystal Darkness," reports Sam McManis of the Sacramento Bee. "Originally produced for Reno TV stations in January 2007, 'Crystal Darkness' used interviews with addicts from all walks of life, graphic images of the damage done and sobering violent-crime statistics. It also provided a toll-free number for people to get help."

The program was so successful in Reno that other markets sought their own localized versions. "In May in Las Vegas, 50 percent of the households tuned in to the documentary, according Nielsen ratings," McManis writes. "In August, 25 stations in five Oregon cities broadcast the documentary, and newspaper reports say the toll-free number was flooded with calls. And in December, San Diego stations blanketed the airwaves."

There is a Spanish version of the documentary, which will air at 11:30 a.m. Saturday on Sacramento's Spanish-language station. (Read more)

A tip of the hat to Al Tompkins of The Poynter Institute for spotlighting this documentary, and for digging up some other links related to the story:
  • Clips from the documentary on YouTube.
  • The Web site for the documentary,, which features information on the campaign that accompanies the airing of the program.
  • Story from KPTV in Oregon about a phone bank set up to handle the flood of calls after the airing on the show.
  • Story from KVBC-TV in Las Vegas about rehabilitation centers receiving referrals and taking in patients after the program aired.

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